Although many are tempted to use software to file their taxes each year, nothing beats a personal relationship with a trusted tax advisor. Your advisor will not only file your taxes by April 15, but also improve your financial health by showing you all year how to better prepare for your tax filing. This advice will help you find the best advisor for your needs.
You will be in good hands if you choose a CPA or an enrolled tax agent. Both CPAs and enrolled agents are required to take courses and exams to become approved tax practitioners. They stay informed about new laws that could affect your taxes. In addition, they are required to continue their professional education to stay up-to-date on best practices.
Using a tax advisor in your region is important because tax laws vary from state to state. An advisor in your region will have insight regarding new, local laws, and how they affect you financially.
You may have heard that a particular advisor was “the best person out there.” However, before you hire this tax practitioner, ensure you will be able to connect directly with your advisor, so they can know you personally. The more your advisor knows you, the more accurate your return results will be. If your advisor has knowledge of your new job, the recent purchase of a new home or the birth of your first child, he or she can make sure that you are not missing out on key deductions and can help you plan accordingly.
If you have a full-time job or children at home, you might not be able to speak with your advisor during normal business hours. You should make sure that your advisor is available to speak to you after hours or can meet you outside their office. You shouldn’t have to take a day off to meet with your accountant. They should be flexible around your needs and understand your commitments.
It is extremely important that you do some research about the person you select as your tax advisor. You do not want to give a randomly chosen person your personal information. An advisor should be someone you trust with confidential information—including your social security number.
Although you may be tempted to choose an advisor based on cost, cheaper isn’t always the best long-term choice. If you choose an advisor strictly because he or she is less expensive, they may not be suitable for your individual needs. On the flip side, if you spend the money and choose an advisor who meets your needs, you will feel an invaluable level of comfort and this person will be an asset to you and your financial health for years to come.
If your tax advisor asks you to sign a blank tax form, do not sign it. Understand what you are signing, and only sign a completed tax form. Discontinue your relationship with this tax advisor.
Your finances are private—so keep them that way. You may be tempted to work with a family member or a close friend, but ask yourself, “Do I want my family member or close friend to know how much money I make?” It may also make them feel uncomfortable to know this. Mixing business with pleasure may jeopardize relationships, so weigh your options accordingly.
Choosing a tax advisor shouldn’t be as simple as selecting the first one you see in the phone book. Do thorough research and find the best person to meet your individual needs. Your advisor should be someone you want to form a long-term relationship with. This is also someone who should be willing to get to know you, so that they can offer you the best advice to benefit your financial health.
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